5 Tips for Running a Healthy Affiliate Program

By Justin Zwack, Client Development Manager

Whether you’re just getting into affiliate marketing or are an industry veteran, here are 5 things affiliate managers should avoid to maintain a healthy affiliate program and maintain affiliate program management best practices.  

Don’t Forget to Pay Your Affiliates

This may seem obvious but most affiliates will tell you it happens too frequently. Affiliates need to be paid on time and in full; otherwise you risk irreparably damaging your relationships. The best way to make sure your affiliates get paid on time is to always keep your account funded.

If possible, automate the process for funding your account by keeping a credit card on file for automatic deposits. If automatic deposits aren’t an option, make sure you understand the process for funding commissions and setup up a reminder so you don’t miss payouts. For example, if it takes additional time for your finance team to cut a check be sure to build that delay into your process.

Don’t Communicate with Your Affiliates the Same Way You Communicate with Your Customers

A common misconception among merchants is to mistake affiliates for the end-customer. Affiliates are your independent sales force, not your customer, so there’s no need for fancy marketing lingo when communicating with them. When writing to an affiliate, try to imagine you’re emailing a colleague rather than a customer. Most affiliates receive an overwhelming number of emails on a daily basis, so keep things short, sweet and to the point.

Don’t ‘Auto-Approve’ Affiliate Applications

The affiliate approval process is a great example of when it’s better to be proactive rather than reactive. Taking a little time every day to manually review your affiliate applications and understand how they will promote your brand can save you some major headaches down the road. If you don’t know who you are letting into your program you could be opening yourself up to fraud, violations of your terms and conditions [e.g. paid search] or traffic sources you might not want to be associated with [e.g. porn, pills and gambling].

Don’t Pay Commissions on Refunded Orders

An easy way to preserve program efficiency is by reversing commissions on sales where there is a refund, cancellation or return. Unless your affiliate network is an extension of your ecommerce system, your network will not automatically reverse commissions unless you notify them. Schedule some time at least once a month to review your ecommerce data for returns and reverse commissions accordingly.

Don’t Forget to Update Your Links

It’s usually easier to remember to add new deals, banners and text links than it is to remove old ones. There’s no quicker way to kill your conversion rate than directing a user to a promotion that’s no longer active, or worse, a landing page that no longer exists. To keep your program healthy, make sure to periodically check your program for expired promotions, outdated creative and inactive landing pages.